Immigration Law in Erie, PA

Does your immigration status worry you? Do you find the current immigration laws confusing? An Erie, Pennsylvania immigration lawyer can help correctly file all your paperwork. Moreover, an immigration attorney can also defend you if you face deportation orders.

What Is Immigration Law?

Immigration law deals with federal regulations dictating who can live and work in the United States of America. It also involves the naturalization process for permanent residents who wish to become United States citizens. For those who enter or remain in the country illegally, U.S law mandates their prosecution, detention, and possible deportation.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, Erie is not a sanctuary city, nor is Erie County listed as a sanctuary county. However, according to Welcoming America, Erie has become a Certified Welcoming City. In 2017, a Senate bill that would punish sanctuary cities was unsuccessfully introduced to the legislature.

Which Government Agencies Enforce Immigration Law?

There are multiple federal government agencies that oversee immigration law in the United States. To illustrate, here are the three major federal agencies:

  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement: ICE investigates people who violate immigration laws and carries out enforcement.
  • US Citizenship and Immigration Services: USCIS handles applications to become United States workers, residents, or citizens.
  • Customs and Border Protection: CBP maintains and strengthens the country’s borders.

How Does Immigration Into the U.S. and Erie, PA Work?

In order to legally immigrate into the United States, one must submit several different applications to the federal government. Furthermore, immigration regulations can change constantly. We recommend hiring an Erie, Pennsylvania immigration lawyer to help with the process.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Pennsylvania passed the Real ID Compliance Act in 2017. Under this law, the state government requires evidence of lawful status in the U.S. from an individual applying for a driver’s license. As well, Pennsylvania passed a law in 2017 including funds for refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrant students. An experienced Erie immigration attorney can help you understand the most current rules and how they apply to your case.

Types Of Immigration

Family-Based Immigration

This is the most common type of immigration. It involves an eligible family member filing a petition on behalf of the individual seeking naturalization. U.S citizens can file a petition on behalf of anyone considered an immediate relative. However, permanent residents and other migrants may face additional restrictions.

Those seeking immigration who aren’t immediately related to the person filing a petition on their behalf are subject to further review. This puts your immigration application into a pool with applied preferences. Preferential treatment goes to those who are under 21 and unmarried. On the other hand, less preference goes to older relatives of those filing a petition. It can take years for these kinds of applicants to obtain a visa.

Employment-Based Immigration

This is a temporary visa given to those seeking work or business opportunities in America. Employment-based immigration is a broad category with many different categories. Some of these include (but are not limited to):

  • Visas for athletes or entertainers
  • Diplomatic employees visas
  • Visas for religious workers
  • Visas for employees in specific industries, such as healthcare and agriculture

In these cases, a specific employer typically sponsors the immigrant. Once the temporary window closes, the company can choose to make the immigrant’s status permanent. Some Erie business owners and investors can also sponsor themselves via their companies.

Refugees And Asylum Seekers

There are special conditions where immigrants may legally enter and remain in the United States. These situations can involve people fleeing persecution or who cannot return to where they came from due to unsafe conditions. The President, in coordination with Congress, dictates how many people can receive refugee status.

People who fear persecution upon returning to their country may seek asylum from the United States. Currently, there is no mandated limit on how many people can be granted asylum or how long their period of asylum lasts in Immigration Law.

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services administers the PA Refugee Resettlement Program (RRP). RRP offers a wide range of services, including unaccompanied refugee minor programs, services for older refugees, and English as a Second Language training. The US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCI) Erie Field Office has been welcoming immigrants to Erie since 1919. USCI Erie offers a wide variety of services including resettlement assistance, and the Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA) program. RMA provides up to eight months of health care coverage to refugees.

The Difference Between a Visa and a Green Card

A visa allows you to enter the U.S and remain for a certain period of time. However, a green card allows you to enter and stay for as long as you want. Permanent residents are people who hold green cards.

Non-Immigrant Visas

Non-immigrant visas are types of visas for people who are planning on leaving once their term has elapsed. These types of visas do not lead to permanent residency unless the person has another qualifying reason. For example, this includes tourist visas, student visas, and work visas.

Immigrant Visas

Immigrant visas offer the opportunity for permanent residency in the United States. If you have an immigrant visa, you might become eligible for a green card. However, these visas are harder to obtain and require someone to vouch for you via petition by a qualifying U.S. person.

The Role of Erie, PA Immigration Lawyers

Erie, Pennsylvania immigration lawyers serve as advisors that guide applicants throughout the immigration application process. Matters that typically invoke the service of an immigration lawyer are extensive. These are deportation issues, green cards, citizenship, naturalization, employment, and visa or green card applications.

You will not typically find immigration lawyers in court dealing with cases. Instead, they serve as mediators between their clients and the U.S immigration services. Specifically, Erie, PA immigration lawyers deal with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services department.

The Multicultural Community Resource Center (MCRC) offers support to immigrant families in the Erie area. MCRC’s services include immigration counseling, and assistance with applications for travel documents, work authorizations, and permanent residency. MCRC also provides a wide variety of non-legal services to refugees including daycare, language services, and driving simulation classes. The ACLU Pennsylvania runs a chapter in Northwest Pennsylvania serving Erie County that litigates for immigrants’ rights and advocates for immigration reform.

When Should I Consider Hiring an Erie, PA Immigration Attorney?

Hiring an immigration lawyer in Erie, Pennsylvania is not always necessary. But even so, there are some instances where hiring an immigration attorney becomes almost mandatory:

  • The applicant is a convicted criminal.
  • The denial of prior applications.
  • The applicant has previously gone through deportation or barred entry from the United States.
  • The waiting period for an application has taken unreasonably long.
  • The applicant is seeking an employment visa but the employer refuses to help facilitate the process.
  • The applicant’s previous status depended on marriage but that marriage resulted in divorce. You need to prove there was no fraudulent activity.
  • The child of an applicant is close to reaching the age of 21 prior to the granted application. There are different provisions for people under the age of 21.
  • The applicant became confused with the application process. The applicant is unable to complete the paperwork on their own.

Do you suffer from any of the problems above or have other immigration problems to resolve? If so, we can help connect you with the right Erie, PA attorney to help you navigate this complicated legal system. We can even help you connect with an attorney across Pennsylvania state lines.

Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!

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